Why couldn’t Miami spike ball vs. Florida State in final seconds? Rule book is clear

The rivalry between Florida State and Miami is a historic, and typically pretty evenly matched one. The two teams have now met 66 times since 1951 and Miami leads the series 35-31 all-time, and prior to Saturday had won the last four meetings.

But the Seminoles snapped that streak with a 31-28 win in a riveting game that had a strange ending thanks to an NCAA rule.

Florida State scored a go-ahead touchdown with 26 seconds left after quarterback Jordan Travis snuck it into the end zone from the 1-yard line. A two-point conversion gave FSU a 31-28 lead. From there, the Seminoles kicked it away and Miami used 19 seconds for three incompletions. The Canes eventually got a first down after quarterback Tyler Van Dyke hit Charleston Rambo for 19 yards with two seconds left on the clock.

Looking at first-and-10 from their own 44, Van Dyke attempted to spike it as a means to stop the clock and potentially get off a Hail Mary.

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But, according to NCAA rule 12-3-6, there needed to be three seconds left on the clock after the first down was made in order to spike the ball with time remaining.

If the clock expires at the end of a half, and replay determines that there was time remaining on the clock, and the clock would start on the Referee’s signal after review, there must be at least 3 seconds remaining when the ball should have been declared dead to restore time to the clock. With 2 seconds or 1 second remaining on the clock, the half is over. This change will not impact situations when the clock is stopped and will remain stopped until the snap such as incomplete passes and runners out of bounds. 

The loss to Florida State was Miami’s first in three weeks, during which time the Hurricanes knocked off two ranked opponents. 

After the game, Miami coach Manny Diaz didn’t address the play directly, but did say the Hurricane’s woes were self-inflicted.

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“They made one more play than we did to win the game and we knew they’d come out with a lot of energy, but we were our own worst enemy,” Diaz said postgame. “We had a chance to get some throws and had a chance on the last drive to potentially tie it up, but ultimately we just ran out of time.”

Diaz, a Florida State alum, is now 2-1 all-time against his alma mater.

The win moves Florida State to 4-6, meaning the Seminoles will need to win out to become bowl eligible with games against Boston College and Florida remaining. With the loss, Miami is 5-5 and just needs a win against one of Virginia Tech or Duke to become bowl eligible.

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